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She in Rule of Law and Sustainability

by Weam Mahmoud

In cooperation with SEEDS for Legal Intiatives

The "SHE in the Rule of Law and Sustainability" conference, organized by the Rule of Law Programme for the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in collaboration with SEEDS for Legal Initiatives, took place on September 13, 2023, at Hilton Beirut, Metropolitan Palace. The conference aimed to explore the role of women in promoting the rule of law and sustainable development in the MENA region. It focused on three Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Gender Equality (SDG 5), Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), and Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (SDG 16). The event brought together regional and international experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to gender equality, political participation, access to justice, and economic empowerment for women in the region.

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Panel I: SDG 5 - Gender Equality

Moderator: Ms. Joumana Merhy, Director of the Arab Institute for Human Rights in Lebanon

The first panel discussed the importance of gender equality and women's rights in the MENA region. The speakers highlighted several key points:

  1. Dr. Dima Dabbous emphasized that gender equality is fundamental to all SDGs. Discriminatory laws, especially those related to divorce and inheritance, remain a significant challenge in the MENA region.
  2. Mrs. Yara Nassar pointed out that countries in the MENA region are committed to promoting gender equality through international agreements but often fall short in implementing them, particularly in family and civil status laws.
  3. Ms. Isabelle Gueguen stressed the need for gender-responsive budgeting to address gender inequalities. She cited Morocco's integration of gender-sensitive budgets into ministries as a positive step.

The panel discussion included concerns about economic downturns affecting women's rights, the importance of civic education, criticisms about gender roles in vocational training, and calls for a more ambitious international legal framework on women’s rights. The need for broader dialogue involving legislators and the private sector was also raised.

Recommendations from Panel I:

  • Amend internal laws to align with international treaties.
  • Advocate for comprehensive political participation.
  • Allocate budgets for gender equality.
  • Introduce quotas in political parties.
  • Challenge traditional gender roles.
  • Raise awareness about women's rights.
  • Support human rights defenders.
  • Promote gender equality across all SDGs.


Panel II: SDG 16 - Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

Moderator: Mrs. Abir Chebaro, Vice President of the Lebanese League for Women in Business

The second panel delved into women's roles in peace, justice, and strong institutions. Key takeaways from the speakers included:

  1. Mrs. Ansam Abayechi emphasized the need to involve women in peace-building processes, as women often suffer the most in armed conflicts.
  2. Mrs. Zeina El Helou stressed the importance of not just having women present in institutions but ensuring their voices and needs are genuinely represented in decision-making processes.
  3. Me. Layal Sakr highlighted the gap between laws and judges' understanding of gender issues, calling for training to address this discrepancy.

The panel discussion tackled issues such as women's participation in politics not necessarily leading to gender equality, the intersectionality of gender issues, the importance of quotas, and the need to uphold democratic values and international agreements.

Recommendations from Panel II:

  • Learn from international treaties and agreements.
  • Bridge the gender gap in various sectors.
  • Reduce disparities in private spaces.
  • Encourage women's involvement in security and military institutions.
  • Implement quotas at various levels.
  • Introduce gender concepts in education.
  • Reconsider democracy and pluralism.
  • Promote human rights culture.
  • Adopt an intersectional approach.


Panel III: SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

Moderator: Mrs. Myriam Sfeir, Director of the Arab Institute for Women at the Lebanese American University

The third panel discussed women's economic participation and decent work. Key points from the speakers included:

  1. Me. Nour Emam highlighted economic challenges for women in Jordan and emphasized the need to address legal barriers to economic participation.
  2. Me. Maya Zaghrini stressed the importance of changing traditional stereotypes to empower gender equality in the workplace.
  3. Mrs. Asma El Zein emphasized the importance of mentorships and internships for women's education and empowerment.

The panel discussion also addressed the importance of reviewing and evaluating progress in women's economic participation, expanding discussions beyond interested parties, and encouraging women to pursue careers in science and technology.

Recommendations from Panel III:

  • Hold regular sessions to review progress in women's economic participation.
  • Expand discussions on gender equality.
  • Establish policies for women-friendly work environments.
  • Encourage women in STEM fields.
  • Strengthen labor unions for women's rights.
  • Support women in decision-making roles.
  • Develop a gender-responsive legal system.
  • Remove reservations on human rights agreements.



The "SHE in the Rule of Law and Sustainability" conference featured enlightening presentations and discussions on various aspects of gender equality and women's empowerment in the MENA region. Each panelist provided unique insights into the challenges and opportunities in their respective fields, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand. The recommendations generated from the panels offer actionable steps toward advancing gender equality, justice, and sustainable development in the MENA region.

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Weam Mahmoud

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